Victoria’s Secret has a bold new look, but will she be selling bras?
The secret is revealed: Victoria has a daring new look.
Exit the model Angels, here is the VS Collective, a group of women recognized for their achievements and their opinions. The hope is that they will help Victoria’s Secret reconnect with customers who are fed up with the brand’s narrow beauty standards.
It’s a brave move, but will he sell bras? As America’s largest lingerie retailer prepares to live as Victoria’s Secret & Co., a stand-alone spin-off from parent company L Brands Inc., that’s the $ 5 billion question.
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The most prominent member of the seven-member collective is professional footballer Megan Rapinoe. Beside her are plus-size model Paloma Elsesser and transgender model and actress Valentina Sampaio, both of whom have previously worked with the brand. There’s also actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas, 17-year-old world champion skier Eileen Gu and model and former refugee child Adut Akech. The group will participate in a podcast hosted by the oldest member, Amanda de Cadenet, 49, as well as advise the company and appear in its advertisement.
With their multi-faceted identities and militant campaigns, the VS collective shatters the one-dimensional vision of beauty offered by Angels. The about-face sends a powerful message that the old Victoria’s Secret is no more.
A break with the past was desperately needed. In the midst of the MeToo era, the business seemed increasingly male-dominated and disconnected. The scandal sparked by former L Brands CEO Leslie Wexner’s association with late financier Jeffery Epstein has only further hurt the brand.
Read also : Why Victoria’s Secret finally freed the angels
During this time, the company has bumped into fashion trends. Underwired bras are being replaced by less structured bras, and the rise of athleisure means that sports bras are less about the gym than everyday life. New competitors such as ThirdLove and CUUP have emerged to meet the changing needs of consumers.
But such a drastic makeover for Victoria’s Secret risks looking like a cynical marketing ploy. It won’t be easy to get rid of the sexpot image the retailer has been peddling for so long.
Other brands, such as Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty lingerie line, always feel more genuinely inclusive. The pop star transformed the beauty industry with 40 – now 50 – different foundation shades; she did the same for the underwear with a bold color palette to flatter all skin tones and sizes. And American Eagle Outfitters, Inc.’s Aerie is already seen as a younger, more accessible retailer. Its AerieReal campaign removed airbrushed photos in 2014.
Victoria’s Secret must overcome a lack of credibility if it is to appeal to women. Fortunately, there is a good sign that women’s empowerment is also present in the boardroom: six non-executive directors, including the president, are women.
Stores and products must also be in sync with the new Victoria. The company already offers bras up to G cup and sizes up to XXL, but it needs to go much further to accommodate consumers. The product range must also be expanded. Nursing, maternity and mastectomy bras will be added this year. (The Collective’s unveiling eclipsed a parallel announcement that the company would fund research into women’s cancers.)
It should be remembered that lingerie is one of the most technically complex areas of fashion – some bras have up to 30 components – so the overhaul will not be instantaneous. And the retailer will launch collections with some of its new faces. This should help bridge the gap between its new image and what’s on the shelves.
So far, investors are giving the makeover the benefit of the doubt, but the real risk is that buyers won’t be as enthusiastic. The approach is a huge gamble. Even after its struggles, Victoria’s Secret generated more than $ 5 billion in sales in 2020.
The retailer is pivoting because customers have told it they want a different take on what’s beautiful and sexy. But what consumers say and what they buy can be two different things.
Not everyone is looking for progressive and inclusive content. Take Love Island, the popular British reality TV show in the United States, where a group of young people compete to hook up in a luxury villa. Although competitors follow a very traditional view of what is “attractive”, sponsorship of the cultural phenomenon can boost sales. As a result, companies such as the UK Boots branch of Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. and online retailer I Saw it First are joining the show.
Like the Love Islanders, Victoria’s Secret Angels were glamorous, escapist, and ambitious. The company must take this into account, because it is preparing to integrate the Collective into its campaigns. He describes his Ambassadors as an “ever-growing group” so new faces will likely be added over time. And the retailer will continue to work with non-executive women. This provides some leeway in case the current seven do not respond to consumers.
In the end, the Angels must have fallen to earth. But for Victoria’s Secret to really let go of the past, her new Collective must find its wings.